Staff Appreciation Ideas For Your Physical Therapy Practice

In any role, it’s essential to feel seen from time to time in order to stay motivated and productive. As physical therapists, we can get so consumed with the care and treatment side of the business that we tend to neglect the employee engagement side of the business. Luckily, you can seize the opportunity to recognize and reward your staff using these simple appreciative gestures.

To keep the list diverse, we surveyed our team and listed out some tried and true staff appreciation ideas that work well in the physical therapy clinic environment. As a bonus, we tied them to the popular “love languages” so you can identify which language your team responds to the best as you choose the staff appreciation ideas for your private practice.

Staff Appreciation Ideas Based on Love Languages


“Words of Affirmation” Appreciation Ideas

Words of affirmation use communication via the spoken word to display affection, respect and praise. When this is someone’s love language, they appreciate kind words, compliments and encouragement to keep them motivated. Here are some staff appreciation ideas that solve for Words of Affirmation.

The Daily Shout Out

During staff meetings, have a regular segment where you point out a clinician or front-desk staff member who has gone above and beyond. This not only boosts self-esteem, but it also incentivizes your staff to make sure they’re next on the list.

Secret Recognition Notes

Allow peers within your physical therapy practice to encourage one another by pairing them randomly and asking them to write an encouraging note for their partner that day. As the leader, you can distribute the notes to individuals or read them aloud in a group setting.

Pass the Trophy

Create an office trophy that staff can award from one person to the next weekly, or even daily, based on the great things they’ve done or extra efforts they’ve taken. The trophy, while simple in nature, symbolizes the pursuit of greatness that your clinic embodies and creates an opportunity for the affirmation your staff desires.

“Acts of Service” Appreciation Ideas

Acts of service make people feel appreciated because someone is doing something for them. These are typically small gestures that people love having done for them, but also love doing for others, making it a great way to serve the community as well. Here are some staff appreciation ideas that solve for Acts of Service.

Volunteer Days and Drives

Ask your employees what causes or charities are important to them. In what ways would they like to support these non-profits? Schedule a day off or a weekend to serve these charities and find other creative ways to contribute to causes within your physical therapy practice.

Office Extras

One staff appreciation idea is to ask where points of stress and discomfort are in the workday, such as an old chair or finicky coffee machine, then upgrade or fix them. Summer Fridays are another popular way to serve your staff – every week or every other week, close a couple hours earlier to give them a longer weekend to enjoy.

VIP Parking

Another easy to implement idea that goes a long way in making your staff feel appreciated, the VIP parking spot can be updated every week or month to the standout employee. This simple gesture can add a lot of convenience for staff (especially in the cold months) and can make them feel like a rockstar.

“Quality Time” Appreciation Ideas

Staff validation comes from spending quality time with your team, both individuals and the collective, giving them your undivided attention and taking the time to focus on what’s on their mind without offering your opinion. There are some fun ways to do this as well.

Therapy Dogs

What could be more fun for physical therapy than getting dogs in the mix? Work with a local animal shelter to introduce dog-walking therapy for patients and give your staff time to play with them.

Monthly Outing

Schedule a day once a month where staff can gather, if they want, to spend some time with you and speak freely. You could do it with many activities, but mixing it up with a barbeque in the parking lot or a free concert in the park should do the trick.

Conferences and Events

Whether they are in person or virtual, industry conferences are always a great way to connect with your team, spend quality time and get educated on the latest technologies and trends. Find speaker events or big conferences in your area and sign up the team!

“Receiving Gifts” Appreciation Ideas

Gift-giving is one of the most common ways to show you care because the recipient usually doesn’t just appreciate the gift itself but also the time and effort the gift-giver put into it. This can make for fun staff appreciation ideas.

Wellness Stipend

Show that your clinic lives the healthy lifestyle you’re mapping out for your patients. You can provide a monthly or yearly stipend for wellness-related activities for staff that include gym memberships, recreational activities or even reimbursements for 5K races.

Branded Swag

This is a win win. Give your staff exciting apparel or swag that reps your physical therapy practice so they can appreciate the gifts and you can appreciate the advertisements. Gifts like shirts and tumblers can even go to their friends and family at special events to help spread the word about your clinic.

“Just Because” Surprises

Find creative ways to engage your staff, even if it means surprising them. Imagine telling your team that there is a 3-hour continuing education course that they must all take that afternoon. Then, when the course is about to start, you announce that it’s a ruse and they have the rest of the day off to do whatever they want. Find special ways to surprise and delight your staff.

Staff Appreciation is a Key to Private Practice Success

To ensure your physical therapy staff is staying engaged and motivated, you need to show them that they are appreciated. Hopefully, this list of staff appreciation ideas will get you started. We can’t wait to hear how it works for you.

Learn more about how to bring out the best in your personnel and reach your potential as a leader with MEG Academy’s Personnel Management Program

This 3-course program is available for purchase a la carte to help you develop interpersonal skills and effective communication tactics that gain agreement and solve conflicts. By putting your staff through the program, they will gain the “soft skills” necessary to be a strong employee, regardless of their post. Have questions? Just ask!  

MEG Academy programs for Physical Therapy

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